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Operative Manufacts: Gestures as Embodied Sketches in the Early Stages of the Design Process

  • Irene Mittelberg
  • Thomas H. Schmitz
  • Hannah Groninger
Chapter
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 28)

Abstract

In light of the growing importance of digital design tools, this paper puts back into focus the human body’s internalized knowledge of the material and social world. It exploits the semiotic potential of operative manufacts, understood as encompassing both sketches on paper and gestures evolving in real time and space. Operative manufacts are seen as a means to tap into architects’ embodied experience with spatial structures and to enhance their imaginative capacities during the early stages of the design process. Combining theories and methods from the domains of art, architecture, semiotics, and gesture studies, this research examines how gestures and whole-body enactments may produce, elaborate, and communicate emerging ideas of space and artifacts, and how designers interact with(in) them.

After discussing the disembodied nature of digital notation techniques and virtual design environments, we suggest a set of bodily techniques that engender varying degrees of immersion. The continuum proposed here stretches from bodily expression directed inwards to ideas directed outwards and registered on paper (contemplative, projective, and descriptive speech-accompanied gestures; gestural 3D sketches in space; 2D sketches on paper). To indicate some of the subjective, operational, and design-specific effects of these techniques, we present a series of case studies showing how gestural articulations recorded with a motion-capture system may be visualized as three-dimensional figurations and enter a series of gradually evolving epistemic objects and design practices. Overall, this work advocates reinstating a certain balance between subjectivity and objectivity, and between imagery and physicality in creative dialogic processes.

Keywords

Architectual design Immersion Embodiment Gesture Creative process Disembodiment 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Mittelberg
    • 1
  • Thomas H. Schmitz
    • 2
  • Hannah Groninger
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Technology Centre (HumTec)RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Visual Arts, Faculty of ArchitectureRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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